Recent storms and strong waves were responsible for washing a World War II-era practice bomb onto the shore of a Santa Cruz County beach on New Year’s Eve, according to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s bomb team responded to a call at Pajaro Dunes around 2 p.m., west of Watsonville and 22 miles south of Santa Cruz.
Because of its size and degraded state, bomb technicians requested that the Travis Air Force Base Explosive Ordnance Disposal team inspect the bomb, according to an Air Force public affairs spokesperson.
After conducting a visual inspection and X-ray scan, the team deemed the bomb an “inert military ordnance,” free of explosives, and approved its transport to the Air Force base in Fairfield. Inspectors identified the artillery as a World War II-era U.S. Navy Mk 15 Mod 2 practice bomb. It will be stored with the Travis team.
This type of artillery is designed for training, incorporating working mechanics but lacking explosive materials, according to the U.S. Naval Academy’s website. It simulates live ammunition’s weight, size and handling characteristics during a training exercise.
“Every few years, we will see military ordnances wash up,” said Ashley Keehn, public information officer for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. “We occasionally see sea flares uncovered. This washing up on shore goes to show the intensity of the high surf we saw this past week.”
A spokesperson from the National Weather Service in Monterey attributed high tides for beaching the bomb.
The weather service issued warnings of high surf and coastal flooding on Dec. 30. Additionally, on New Year’s Eve, it warned of hazardous coastal conditions due to debris washing on shore.